What it’s like to watch the life drain out of someone. The truth of a firefighter

For a fleeting moment life is both calm and manic, everyone around is rushing, everyone is frantically trying to solve this puzzle but one person is calmed. One person is drained through to exhaustion, there is a desperate calm in their eyes but a calm none the less.

I don’t know what they are thinking but I know that it looks tranquil, it looks like they have found an acceptance with their situation…. they probably don’t like it but they have found their acceptance in it.

This person is dying, its the most desperate of moments and right at the end, people are trying to bring them back to a survivable state but it’s a battle that is quickly been lost.

They don’t do things anymore but things are constantly being done to them, drips are in, drugs are in, crews are ready for the moment their heart falters ready to perform CPR, machines beep and bing telling our medic various different things. The body now looks almost robotic with wires attached to every limb.

They don’t breathe air anymore, pure oxygen is being pumped into their body and I imagine the numbness that comes with the oxygen related high, I wonder if that’s why they are so tranquil? without this oxygen would they be fearful? I doubt it my guess is that with their senses numbed in this manner they are only thinking basic thoughts.

A moment to summarise your whole existence, I wonder how they feel about it? Do they think they did enough? Lived long enough? Did they feel regret or relief? Do they see the light? Is their whole life flashing before their eyes? You can only but wonder but I know it looks calm…. just a small second of calm in a battle for a life.

It’s a battle I’ve fought many times, there’s no calm way to die in an accident whether in a car or crushed or fire….. however there’s always this one calm moment glimpsed in the eyes of the casualty. Just a second but it’s there if you look for it.

As their last conscious moments fade away, the intensity of the work increases drastically, a purposeful and organised shouting has began to occur. Our commander is now aware of how little time we have left. Injuries no longer matter, a broken rib or cut on their body no longer matter, at this moment only one thing is going through the crews minds “keep them breathing, keep the heart going…. no matter what the cost keep it going”.

Emotions are high and niceties are no longer necessities “fuck” this “shit” that… none of this matters, there’s no what if they complain anymore it’s about them staying Alive to make that complainant.

Our commander is frantic, it’s a calculated frantic but you can see the urgency in every movement. Their voice is louder and faster than before, what was once an unshakable battle hardened warrior Has now been shaken and their is a new sense about him…. he means business now and he’s not letting anyone go without a fight.

However we act now we are fighting a losing battle and we are being over powered by the odds that stacked up against us.

As the options to fix things become depleted so do the things that keep going by themselves, eventually all functions have been taken over by a handful of medics, they can no longer care about anything other than keeping the heart beating.

They bounce on the chest to keep the blood flowing, pads are attached and we are ready. A machine is in waiting to deliver that shot of electricity in the vein hope that it will restart the heart… it is unlikely to help. More drugs are pushed into their body…. the hopes are high, everybody there knows these are our final options, our last hope.

Eventually the battle is lost and a somber calm floats in the air, a sadness where all is lost, nothing else to be done other than to pack up the equipment, get rid of the blood from your kit and hang your head low knowing that you didn’t succeed, that when you were needed the most you stood up tall and came up short.

I once had a talk with a dusty old fireman who said he always looks at it that they are dead no matter what but all you have done is given a little hope, you gave a chance in what was already a fatal situation.

There is another sad thing that’s personal to me, wrapping up the kit is the end of the show…. for me that broke me, I never knew it for a long time… but in the end I lost everything to ptsd (or my mental self once things had happened) and there’s fatally little support for those whom will give it all to support you. I was haunted for a long time by the times that I gave false hope… it still pains my soul.

So there it is, the ugly truth. The pain, the heart ache, the truth of the situation. In the end we will all have that moment so show each other love, you don’t know who is going to watch those lights go out.

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